If you bike over the Ballard Bridge regularly, you are certainly well aware of the sidewalk closures that have been going on since November. Well, that work will not likely be done until early May.
The city is painting the bridge as a preservation method to prevent corrosion of the steel. However, painting work cannot be done in high rain or wind.
When one of the sidewalks is closed, no bicycling is allowed because there is not room on the extremely skinny sidewalks for people biking in opposite directions as well as everyone crossing on foot. You can walk your bike.
Also, the contractor will make sure traffic lanes are not closed during peak traffic times. But, as regular bridge users may have noticed, this does not apply to sidewalks. The contractor can close one of the sidewalks whenever they need it. So be ready to dismount or detour to the Locks or the Fremont Bridge until work is complete.
Many people have been contacting me through email and blog comments complaining that the contractors are not following the posted off-peak work schedule (not knowing that the schedule only applies to people driving). People seem to all have the same request: That they simply want to know when the sidewalks will be closed so they can plan their trip accordingly.
This seems like a reasonable request, especially if the city is going to take bicycle commuting seriously. An unexpected detour at a bridge can add a lot of time to a bicycle trip, not to mention added soaking if it is raining, etc.
May is Bike Month, and the contractor is confident that they will not need to close the southbound sidewalk for the morning commute in May. The number of people commuting by bicycle rises dramatically in May as fair weather commuters come back and others try it for the first time. Having unexpected closures is a concern as work on the bridge gets pushed further back.
There will also be some full weekend closures coming up. Stay tuned for more when those dates are announced.
Here are the detour maps depending on which sidewalk is closed: